The official Japanese currency is called the yen (JPY). Interesting fact: "yen in Japanese also means "circle", so the exchange rate was initially fixed at 360 yen per 1 American dollar.
Peculiarities of cash payments
The Japanese yen (JPY) is available in ten different denominations. The six coins used are in denominations of:
- 1 yen
- 5 yen
- 10 yen
- 50 yen
- 100 yen
- 500 yen
And four banknotes:
- 1000 yen
- 2000 yen (very rare)
- 5000 yen
- 10,000 yen
Despite the actively growing percentage of card usage, Japan is still considered a predominantly cash-based nation. This is especially noticeable in rural areas.
Always carrying small money (10-100 yen coins, 1000 yen notes) is recommended, as many ticket booths and vending machines do not accept extensive notes.
Note that Japan has an extremely low crime rate, so you should not be afraid that your wallet with money will be stolen (of course, this does not cancel the observance of elementary rules of caution).
Where to get yen cash
If you have a Japanese bank card, you can withdraw yen using an ATM. The most common ATMs are from two companies:
- Japan Post. There are over 26,000 units nationwide. At least one will definitely be in any post office; you can also find them in shopping centres and supermarkets. Hours of operation depend on the opening hours of the particular institution where the ATM is installed.
- 7-Eleven (Seven Bank). More than 20,000 devices. They are located in 7-Eleven convenience stores, so they themselves work, as a rule, 24/7. In addition, these ATMs offer an interface in 12+ languages, while the previous ones were only in Japanese and English.
You can exchange JPY cash at locations marked with an "Authorised Currency Exchange" sign; these include banks and Travelex locations, which may be located at airports and tourist hotspots. Hotels may also offer currency exchange services, although at less favourable rates.
Financial etiquette: how to use cash in Japan
It's no secret that the Japanese have their own oriental mentality, so our view on many things with them may differ. In order not to get into an awkward situation, you should remember:
- Tipping is not accepted in Japan. Neither in taxis nor in restaurants, you simply will not understand and will try to return the money, thinking that you accidentally gave more.
- If you still want to tip, put the money in an envelope and hand it to the employee.
- It is customary to put cash on a tray instead of handing it to the cashier when paying in cafes and shops.
- There is virtually no counterfeiting in Japan, so you don't have to worry about being given a counterfeit note.
It is recommended to exchange money directly on the Japanese territory; it will be much more favourable than changing in advance in your own country. In general, it is pretty easy to use money in Japan. At the markets, be careful with change and weighing, as there are cases of cheating everywhere else.